Dirge for John Prester

2 books in series
4 out of 5 stars 34 ratings

The Habitation of the Blessed Publisher's Summary

This is the story of a place that never was: the kingdom of Prester John, the utopia described by an anonymous, 12th-century document that captured the imagination of the medieval world and drove hundreds of lost souls to seek out its secrets, inspiring explorers, missionaries, and kings for centuries. But what if it were all true? What if there was such a place, and a poor, broken priest once stumbled past its borders, discovering, not a Christian paradise, but a country where everything is possible, immortality is easily had, and the Western world is nothing but a dim and distant dream?

Brother Hiob of Luzerne, on missionary work in the Himalayan wilderness on the eve of the 18th century, discovers a village guarding a miraculous tree whose branches sprout books instead of fruit. These strange books chronicle the history of the kingdom of Prester John, and Hiob becomes obsessed with the tales they tell. The Habitation of the Blessed recounts the fragmented narratives found within these living volumes, revealing the life of a priest named John, and his rise to power in this country of impossible richness. John’s tale weaves together with the confessions of his wife Hagia, a blemmye — a headless creature who carried her face on her chest — as well as the tender, jeweled nursery stories of Imtithal, nanny to the royal family.

©2010 Catherynne M. Valente (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
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  • Book 1

    • The Habitation of the Blessed

    • A Dirge for Prester John, Volume One
    • By: Catherynne M. Valente
    • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
    • Length: 11 hrs and 2 mins
    • Unabridged
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 29
    • Performance
      4 out of 5 stars 22
    • Story
      3.5 out of 5 stars 21

    This is the story of a place that never was: the kingdom of Prester John, the utopia described by an anonymous, 12th-century document which captured the imagination of the medieval world and drove hundreds of lost souls to seek out its secrets, inspiring explorers, missionaries, and kings. But what if it were all true? What if there was such a place, and a poor, broken priest once stumbled past its borders, discovering, not a Christian paradise, but a country where everything is possible....

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • Very interesting novel

    • By Susan B. on 04-22-11

    Regular price: $23.09

  • Book 2

    • The Folded World

    • A Dirge for Prester John Volume Two
    • By: Catherynne M. Valente
    • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
    • Length: 9 hrs and 15 mins
    • Unabridged
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 5
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 5
    • Story
      4 out of 5 stars 5

    The Christian Patriarch of Constantinople is fighting a holy war against the forces of Islam. His attempts to rally the support of Europe fail to give him the strength he needs against the forces of Islam. Fearing defeat, he sends his appeals to the great Christian king in the East, Prester John - for the Patriarch was once a boy named Kostas, a novice in the service of John, long before he became king. The Patriarch’s message, seemingly via divine providence, manages to cross into the world of John’s Kingdom, where John’s devotion to Christ overcomes his wife’s misgivings.

    Regular price: $20.78